Archive for May, 2012

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Diablo 3 Hardcore Diary – Part 2

May 20, 2012

*** Warning – Contains spoilers ***

Welcome to part 2 of the Diablo 3 hardcore diary and I’m pleased to say that Rollins is still alive. I’ve now got the level 10 hardcore achievement, which is hardly surprising considering the relatively low difficulty of the first Act and Rollins’ rather extreme amount of rare (yellow) gear.

No major quest milestones reached since the Skeleton King, although I did complete a couple of minor random special events, one in the Defiled Crypt and another while wandering the Fields of Misery.

I’d already done the Defiled Crypt event on my standard mode Barbarian, so I knew what to expect. I hadn’t done the Carrion Farm before, but I didn’t anticipate any problems and, sure enough, there weren’t any.

The final things I did with Rollins last night was get him to level 11 and buy a few new items on the auction house. Tonight I’ll be equipping those items and attempting to get through as much of the remainder of Act 1 as I can manage, probably up to the start of the zone that contains Act 1′s final boss, The Butcher. I’ve already passed him in standard mode, so I know what to expect and what to avoid, which is mostly the fire coming up through the floor.

In part 3 of this diary, I’ll post some screens that show some of my gear. For now, to close this episode, here’s a nice zoomed in shot of Rollins casually insulting Maghda during the first part of the Sword Shard quests.


[Diablo 3 Hardcore Diary - Go to Part 1]

[Diablo 3 Hardcore Diary - Go to Part 3]

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Diablo 3 Hardcore Diary – Part 1

May 19, 2012

*** Warning – Contains spoilers ***

Despite a memorable lesson learned in Diablo 2 where I lost a hardcore Barbarian half way through Act III and spent a long time staring in disbelief at the screen, I’ve started a hardcore Barbarian in Diablo 3.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a hardcore character in Diablo 3, what it means is that you play the game with one life; when you die, that’s it. As explained in this warning that appears when you choose to create a hardcore character:

The game is the same as if played in standard mode, apart from the permanent death issue. You also can’t share items with your own standard mode characters, or team up with other players’ standard mode characters. The auction house is separate, so everything on there is being bought and sold by hardcore characters.

I’m playing it as cautiously as I can. I’m forging ahead on my standard mode Barbarian, finding the times and places where death is most likely to occur and experimenting with skills and gear. Rollins, my hardcore Barbarian, is doing the kind of things that would potentially spoil the game under normal circumstances, things I wouldn’t bother doing in standard mode:

- Repeating (grinding) areas and quests where there is low risk and a fair bit of reward, whether that be gold/gear or xp points. One early quest that is great for a fast repeat cycle is the one where you accompany the blacksmith and end up killing (or watching him kill) his undead wife. Multiple zombie kills, a fair amount of gear from the wife and quest completion xp every time you do it, and the whole thing takes less than a couple of minutes.

- Completely abusing the auction house. Rollins is selling pretty much everything he finds to the NPC merchants and using the gold to buy the best rare (yellow) items that he can afford on the AH. This is arguably overkill through most of Act 1, but it reduces the stress to a manageable level, for me anyway!

In the above screenshot, I have equipped a unique sword called Griswold’s Worn Edge. a lucky random find at Griswold’s destroyed smithy in Old Tristram that turned up in one of many repeat visits to that early location.

At the time of writing this, Rollins is not far from level 10 and the first levelling related achievement for hardcore characters. The Skeleton King has already fallen and, if all goes well, the next entry in this D3 Hardcore Diary will be celebrating that level 10 achievement and probably a few stories in the vein of ‘what happened next’. Either that or there will be a nice screenshot of Rollins’ untimely demise.

[Diablo 3 Hardcore Diary - Go to Part 2]

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Angry Planes HD review (iPad)

May 18, 2012

“Bombers fight at zero feet, bombers fight at zero”

10 word description: ‘City Bomber’ type game, with squid. 90 levels; 3-star ratings.

10 word review: Insubstantial gameplay falls slightly short of the initially entertaining premise.

You will like this if you enjoy: ‘City Bomber’ type games. Jungle Crash Land, although that’s a different and arguably rather more entertaining game.

The good news: Attractive graphics, decent controls, plenty of levels, smooth difficulty curve, challenging 3-star ratings.

The bad news: Big missed opportunity alert: There are 6 playable planes available right from the start. Yes, the differences are only cosmetic, but it would have been much better if these had been unlocked via game progress or by some kind of in-game points system (not IAPs!) to increase the addiction/replay value. Shame. My main gripe, which could indeed be down to personal opinion, is that the bombing doesn’t feel significant or kinetic enough; the bombs don’t splash into the water, the visual explosions are weak, almost unnoticeable, and there are no sound effects for them. The bomb-dropping sound is like someone gently flicking a piece of paper. For a game about bombing, some extra effort should have been put into making the bombing a lot more impressive. And, of course, there’s the word ‘Angry’ in the title – don’t be naïve, this will probably either deter or mislead potential customers.

Arcadelife verdict: The core game is sound enough and there are plenty of planes and levels. Some more thought should have been put into how the 6 planes are acquired. A lot more thought should have been applied to the look and sound of the bombs and how they interact with the other game elements.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 7/10
Audio – 2/10
Controls – 8/10
Content – 7.5/10
Fun – 6/10
Final rating – 61/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.1
iTunes link

Angry Planes website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)
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Diablo 3 (PC) – not quite a review yet

May 15, 2012

All screenshots are taken from my PC at 1600×1200. Click any picture to view the full size image

Like the title says, it’s not quite a review yet as I’ve played for less than 2 hours on one character type, the Barbarian, reaching level 9 so far.

Of course I choose a female barbarian, although you have to like ‘em a bit chubby in Diablo 3

In the box, I got the Windows/Mac versions on a single dvd, a game manual (didn’t read it), two guest passes for Diablo 3 and a guest pass for World of Warcraft. Here’s a really bad photo I took in a hurry with my iPod Touch just before I installed the game:

The installation process isn’t too arduous, less so if you already have a battle.net account set up. They’ve got an additional level of security available now with an authenticator system. There’s a very easy to use iPhone/iPod app that I chose to use; I recommend this if you’re paranoid (like me) or just sensible.

Once you’ve picked your character class and named your character it’s only a short cut-scene before you’re knee-deep in the undead. I have to say, combat is very easy at the start of the game; I only used one potion between levels 1 and 9, and that was probably unnecessary. I’ve read/heard that it gets harder later on, but the initial chapter is definitely stress-free to put it mildly.

Manglemaw – he’s nowhere near as tough as he looks

Playing as a Barbarian, which is almost exclusively melee combat, the sensation of delivering heavy, powerful blows is conveyed exceptionally well. The combination of visual effects and deep, thundering sound effects is just brilliant. It’s hard to think of a game where the feel of the fighting has been rendered quite this effectively.

Levelling up and looting gear are two of the main driving forces behind the addictive playability of this game. Loot gathering and crafting (which turns up fairly early on) are great fun, with crafting giving you something else to do with your unwanted magic items besides selling them to the NPC traders. I’ll talk about the auction house in another post, probably in the review when I get around to writing it.

Killing a whole bunch of enemies in one go isn’t just immensely satisfying, it will also give you some bonus xp points, as shown in the screenshot above.

At regular level-up intervals, you unlock new skills and/or runes that power-up existing skills. For the Barbarian, skills generally consume Fury which is built up by taking or dealing damage.

Right now, I think it’s time I got back into the game and brought this non-review post to a close. Was Diablo 3 worth the wait and all the phantom release dates? Yeah, probably.

That’s not a chubby jogger, that’s my Barbarian!

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Hungry Squid HD review (iPad)

May 14, 2012

“I want you to cascade through ten thousand rainbows with me
And dredge mountains from the sea”

10 word description: Puzzle game. Three modes. Hard to describe in 10 words…

10 word review: A different kind of puzzle game! Yes, different! Let’s rejoice.

You will like this if you enjoy: Puzzle games.

The good news: It’s a different kind of puzzle game, without sacrificing enjoyment at the altar of incomprehensible originality. Graphics are decent, although the backgrounds and menu/statistics screens are a lot prettier than the game grid itself.

The bad news: The game’s name sounds more like some kind of casual screen-flicking nonsense than a comparatively sophisticated puzzle game. The speed-tapping of purple tiles doesn’t feel like it fits with the pace and concept of the rest of the game.

Arcadelife verdict: This is what you get when you continually gripe about the masses of generic, cloned games on the app store – a puzzle game that is virtually impossible to compare with anything else. I admit I deserve it. I suppose Hungry Squid shares some tiny similarities with Pipe Mania style games, although it’s different enough for anyone who has played it to point in disbelief at this sentence and ask what the heck am I talking about. It’s easy to pick up, challenging to master and considerably more fun than the screenshots might have you believe.  The only thing I really don’t like about this game is the name; it should be something more evocative and less throwaway.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8/10
Audio – 8.5/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 8.5/10
Fun – 8/10
Final rating – 84/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.1
iTunes link

Hungry Squid website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)
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Jungle Joe review (iOS / Universal)

May 13, 2012

“Hey Joe, where you gonna run to now, where you gonna go?”

10 word description: Spear throwing, lava jumping, pig ‘rescuing’, balloon popping endless runner.

10 word review: Thoroughly enjoyable runner with good controls and many unlockable characters.

You will like this if you enjoy: Endless runners. Endless runners where you have a bit more to do than just running and jumping.

The good news: Great (simple) controls. Nice graphics. Rather silly characters and concept, therefore great fun. Good assortment of things to avoid and throw spears at. Additional characters with bonus powers such as extra spears and extra lives are not hard to earn through just playing the game; there are IAPs but they don’t appear to be needed unless you’re in a massive hurry, don’t actually want to play the game and have way more money than brain cells.

That dangling voodoo figure grants you temporary invincibility if you spear him

The bad news: Progress doesn’t sync between different devices, at least as far as I could tell. The game (on my 4th gen Touch) freezes if I swap out of the game and go back in again. A fresh start (cancelling it in the multitask list) always sorts it out, but it is still slightly annoying.

Arcadelife verdict: This is a very good addition to the crowded iOS endless runner genre. The mix of jump timing and spear-throwing is very well implemented and the fairly low difficulty level combined with strategic use of the pig multiplier raise the addiction level quite high. Although there are IAPs to buy in-game currency, don’t bother because you really don’t need to do it; it doesn’t take long to unlock extra characters, even the ones with bonus powers.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8.5/10
Audio – 8.5/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 8.5/10
Fun – 9/10
Final rating – 87/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Geek Beach / Jungle Joe website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 5.1.1)
iPad (iOS 5.1)
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Battlefield Minesweeper for iPad review (iPad)

May 11, 2012

“And before this gets old, will it still feel the same?”

If you’re thinking that looks a bit dull, you’re not wrong

10 word description: Classic minesweeper plus Battlefield mode. Detailed high scores and statistics.

10 word review: Does the world need another Minesweeper clone? Very muted colours.

You will like this if you enjoy: Minesweeper, although if you do (still) enjoy minesweeper you are hardly going to want more than one minesweeper app on your iPad…

The good news: It’s a faithful clone with lots of (arguably unnecessary) menus and customisation options.

The bad news: Response in menus is very slow. Battlefield mode adds a new way to lose and not much else.

Arcadelife verdict: A few years ago I wrote an Asteroids clone for the PC using GameMaker. Apart from the graphics, which are hard to perfectly recreate using sprites, the game played about as close to the original as I believe it was possible for me to achieve. I added a second mode, where a timer constantly ran out unless you shot something and you only had one life. I did this for my own amusement and I would never consider trying to foist it onto an indifferent world because, as I would be the first to admit, the world doesn’t need another version of Asteroids.

I guess that’s this review done.

So why trivialise the information by using it in a Game Over message like that?

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 4/10
Audio – 5/10
Controls – 7/10
Content – 4/10
Fun – 3/10
Final rating – 45/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.1
iTunes link

Battlefield Minesweeper website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)
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This Could Hurt review (iOS / Universal)

May 10, 2012

“Do you really want to hurt me?”

10 word description: One-touch hazard avoiding speed-run. Consumable power-ups. Game Center.

10 word review: Deceptively simple; challenging game of timing with very pretty graphics.

You will like this if you enjoy: Playing a game that often feels like you’re watching someone else playing a better game. Ok, that possibly sounds a bit harsh; sorry about that.

The good news: The one-touch control, to make the character wait, is a virtually flawless control method for a touch screen device. Graphics and performance are very good. Audio is ok; music is forgettable but inoffensive. IAPs don’t appear to be necessary, as the in-game currency is easy to accumulate.

The bad news: Anyone expecting some kind of traditional platform game will be surprised and probably disappointed. The injury and death graphics and animations are tame to the point of being pointless; gore and dismemberment would make this game a lot more entertaining. Graphics are possibly too cute – my wife asked me if I was playing a game aimed at our son’s age group; he is four.

Arcadelife verdict: Well, I like it. I thought I’d get that out of the way first. It’s probably best not to dwell on what this game isn’t (a proper platform game with darkly amusing decapitations) and concentrate on why it’s a decent iOS game. It feels as though the game has been built around a simple, effective touch-screen control method and that’s a good thing. The pretty graphics, as they should be, are just decoration.

That’s not to say that the graphics don’t add a lot to the overall experience, because they do, they’re just a bit too cute and rather disappointingly nice when they could get away with being a lot more bloody. Come on, you can’t call a game “This Could Hurt” with spinning saw blades, spikes, huge mallets and piranha all over the place and then chicken out when it comes to the money shots!

This could hurt … but it won’t look like it

As I mentioned, at times it does feel like you’re watching someone else playing a better game. On the very first level, for example, with no player intervention at all, you can get 3 of the 4 level goals plus 19 acorns (in-game currency) in less than 20 seconds. I can’t recommend repeating that process over and over and over again to earn loads of acorns because that would be just a bit too sad. Try it when you’re watching TV, you’ll be rolling in acorns before you know it. No, really, please don’t.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8.5/10
Audio – 7.5/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 8.5/10
Fun – 7/10
Final rating – 80/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Chillingo / This Could Hurt website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 5.1)
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)
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Adventures of Laura Jones HD: the hidden invention of Nikola Tesla review (iPad)

May 9, 2012

“I’ve been changing the scene, if you know what I mean”

Note – the in-game name is not the same as the name in the app store description

10 word description: Hidden object, riddles, logic puzzles, mini-games. Discover Tesla’s secret.

10 word review: Quite easy and entertaining, particularly if you enjoy exploring handbags.

You will like this if you enjoy: Hidden object games.

The good news: Graphics are pretty good, at least average or above for this type of game. Decent mix of puzzles and object hunts. Laura’s interactions with the other characters are mildly amusing, if not always laugh-out-loud funny.

The bad news: Previous purchasers of Laura Jones and the Secret Legacy of Nikola Tesla be warned – this is the same game, although not as far as the app store is concerned. Hardcore hidden object fans may find this too easy, although I don’t personally see that as a problem.

Arcadelife verdict: Apart from the rather weird re-release issue, where the game (under a slightly different name) has previously been available on the app store, this is a colourful, amusing and fairly long HO/puzzle game. There’s a good variety of locations, characters and puzzle types. If you find the clutter of a woman’s handbag to be a source of humour, this is definitely the game for you as Laura has to repeatedly search through the junk in there during several linked puzzles. I laughed, but then I’m easily amused.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8/10
Audio – 7.5/10
Controls – 8/10
Content – 8.5/10
Fun – 7/10
Final rating – 76/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.1
iTunes link

Nevosoft / Laura Jones website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPad (iOS 5.1)
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DreamWorks Dragons: TapDragonDrop review (iOS / Universal)

May 7, 2012

“Open your eyes and see – You’ll see”

10 word description: Film tie-in. Solve puzzles with dragon powers and environmental objects.

10 word review: Excellent puzzle game; echoes of Lemmings, great controls and design.

You will like this if you enjoy: How to train your Dragon (the film). Puzzle games with great cartoon graphics. Note – this is much more of a logic puzzler than a physics puzzle game.

The good news: Really impressive graphics, animations, music and sound effects. Good controls. Well conceived puzzle elements, objectives and dragon powers. For a film tie-in, it’s surprisingly good!

The bad news: Really being picky here, but I’d like a “tap to select, tap to deploy” control for the dragon powers, as an optional alternative to the drag/drop method. Although there’s cloud sync, and it works, it seems to only transfer your standard level progress but not your treasures or bonus level progress. I needed to reset both devices (4th gen Touch & 1st gen iPad) before the game would get beyond the main menu.

Arcadelife verdict: Excellent game. I’ve seen the original film, so I know the characters, but you don’t need to know anything about the film to thoroughly enjoy the game. Don’t worry about the bad news section above; it’s just me trying to find something negative to say because the game is so good overall.

Ok, there is an IAP for extra levels and a different dragon but, seriously, by the time you 3-star all the available levels you’re either going to have had enough of rescuing sheep or you’re going to be desperate for more. If you’re in the latter camp. another 69p isn’t really an issue. Sorry I’m not complaining about the IAP in this game, it seems fair to me.

Although the game is kind of non-violent and kid-friendly, you can have a good laugh fire-bombing sheep or deliberately allowing them to run off cliffs or dive into shark infested water… Something for everyone, right?

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 9.5/10
Audio – 9/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 9/10
Final rating – 91/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Pik Pok / Tap Dragon Drop website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 5.1)
iPad (iOS 5.1)

 

 

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